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Mantralogy Tour 2009: The Final Stop – Bhaktifest

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November 11th, 2009

The Bhakti Fest Stage Kish from the Mayapuris on Harinam

Our last three days of the Mantralogy Tour were spent in Joshua Tree, California, where a large gathering of kirtaniyas and yogis was being held. Joshua Tree is a beautiful place – a desert studded with strange, shaggy, Dr Seuss-like trees and cactuses. At the retreat centre where the festival was held, tents were set up over a large site with an impressive stage at the heart. For 24 hours a day, different singers and bands chanted – celebrating the different names of the divine. Our friends from the Burning Man Krishna camp were there too, tirelessly serving up delicious meals (and fresh coconuts!) throughout the festival.

The Bhakti Bar tent hosted by Andrew Chanters dancing with Jai Uttal and As Kindred Spirits

Jai Uttal and Daniel Paul with Gaura Vani and the Mayapuris Visvambhar of the Mayapuris

The heat was intense, but the desert evenings once the sun had set were beautiful. One night we did 7 hours of kirtan on stage, including our two hour slot of chanting, dance and dynamic drumming by the Mayapuris. On another day we played for a yoga class by Shiva Rea. Deities of Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra brought by Shakuntala Zakheim presided over the class, and after chanting throughout, we all joined together for an energetic circle dance (raas-garba) kirtan.

Dance! Gaura Vani with Jahnavi and CC White

MC Yogi led more chanting of the maha mantra, performing the track ‘Bhakti Boombox’ from his album, and Shyam Das closed the class with a sweet meditation on the divine form of Lord Krishna. After that we carried the deities outside in procession and had the most wonderful spontaneous outdoor kirtan. People joined us as we walked, and by the time we got to the main stage, we were surrounded by a huge crowd, taking pictures and chanting ‘Jagannath, Jagannath!’

Gaura Vani and Ray Ippolito Jahnavi and Vrinda dancing during Krishna Murari

Jahnavi and Vrinda dancing during Krishna Murari MC Yogi and Robin with Gaura Vani and the Mayapuris

Rock on Hanuman! Sri Sri Jagannath Baladev and Subhadra attended the Bhakti Fest

Kirtan goes on all night.

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